Ever feel like you are co-parenting with the enemy? One of the most difficult parts of divorce is learning how to share custody. The dissolution of any type of relationship is hard, but navigating through custody makes it even more of a challenge. Instead of being with your child/children all the time, you now have to have a judge tell you how much time you will be spending with your children. As the immense heartbreak sets in, you seem to have a bigger problem. The person who you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with has turned into someone you never would have expected…Enemy #1.
The confusion of who this new person is makes you seem like you have stepped into an alternate universe. Who are you? How could you do this to me? How can you make up these lies about me and say I am a bad parent? Why would you keep OUR children away from me? How did we become like this? Unfortunately, during a custody battle, people can sometimes put their personal vendetta they have over you in front of what is best for the children. They will try to use their last-ditch effort to control you with the one thing that they know matters to you most . . . time with your children.
Instead of trying to be civil and focus on the children’s needs, it has turned into “you can never do anything right” and every simple conversation you two have turns into a blow up. It finally gets to a point where most of the communication goes through the lawyers. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are figuring out your new normal:
Be The Best Parent YOU Can Be
Don’t focus on what is going on over there. Instead, focus on the time you get with your children and make the most out of it. The more time you focus on the other parent or “the enemy”, the less time and attention you have to devote to the ones who need you most right now.
Be The Bigger Person
NEVER talk bad about your co-parent in front of the children. They don’t need to hear what is going on behind the scenes. This will just confuse them and they still love the other parent, regardless of how you feel about them now.
Don’t Fight In Front Of The Kids OR Make Them Choose Sides
Their little brains don’t know how to handle seeing their parents fight. They don’t care about what is going on between the two of you. They just want to know they have two parents who love them unconditionally. Bad-mouthing the other parent comes across as trying to get them to align with you. That may not be your intent, but again, their little brains can’t process things like you and it’s very confusing to them, especially if both parents are doing it!
Hold strong. Be consistent. Set boundaries.
Children crave consistency and boundaries and it allows kids to feel safe. Make the children stay on schedule and don’t worry about “good cop”/“bad cop.” You are the parent and they need to know where the lines are.
Try not to allow the toxicity of the other parent to get to you. Also, do not let it affect your time with your children. Focus on the positives and choose your battles. Remind yourself that you no longer have to have conversations with this person unless it is about your children and how lucky you are that the interaction is limited! Instead of putting emphasis on how horrible your co-parent has become, change your mindset and pay attention to the positives for what they do for your children. And remember that people who live with anger and hatred in their lives bring themselves a lot of misery.
It takes 2 people to make a child. Just because the relationship no longer works doesn’t mean that the other parent will be out of your life completely. Might as well be a team. Put your needs aside and focus on what is best for the children. As they say, parenting is the best job you will ever have. Having a healthy co-parenting relationship will make such a difference to your personal well-being and your children. Be the stronger person.
“The definition of co (as in co-parenting) is “together, mutually in common.” Cooperation, compromise, co-exist, communication all start with co, and each lends itself to a successful co-parenting relationship” -Laura Wasser